The price for a weekend of tranquillity in the Yorkshire Dales is the 6 a.m. train from Preston to London Euston.
Today I have been asked to appear on the Victoria Derbyshire show. My chosen subject is again Abuse Law and in particular the role of the police in the Rochdale Child Abuse Scandal.
Over the last few months I have had the privilege of working with Henry Singer and Robert Miller. Henry has produced famous documentaries in the past including The Falling Man, about 9/11, and an investigation into the death of Baby P. Their documentary, The Betrayed Girls, will be shown on the BBC at 8.30p.m. this evening.
I have been impressed by their thoroughness. I have been regularly contacted for advice and they have even spoken with some of my clients, 3 of whom give hard hitting testimony during the programme.
I will be on Victoria’s sofa this morning with Maggie Oliver, the ex GMP officer who has done so much to help these victims and expose the failings of the authorities. We will be joined by one of the victims who was failed terribly by both the police and social services.
We have a real problem in this country with police accountability. If you make a complaint about the police it is investigated by a policeman. If you complain to the IPCC it is investigated by ex-policemen. You cannot sue for damages for negligence in the civil courts following the Hills judgement as more recently affirmed in Michaels. Even the ability to claim Human Rights damages is being challenged in the Warboys case where the Met are appealing a damages award backed by the government.
It is wrong that the scrutiny of the police is left to the likes of Henry and Robert in their documentary. I suspect that many people will be shocked at what they see tonight. In 2003 Victoria Agoglia ended her own life at the tender age of 15 years. She left behind a letter. In it she exposed abuse at the hands of countless older men. This triggered Operation Augusta which revealed similar abuse of victims in Hulme and Rusholme. Had GMP addressed the abuse at that stage the many victims we represent may never have suffered. The “3 Girls” would have been typical teenagers growing up in Manchester without any of the ordeals they had to endure. Instead Op Augusta was closed in 2005 without any of the suspects being arrested. A similar operation was again closed in 2008 before action was finally taken in 2011.
I hope that tonight’s documentary makes people think about police accountability. We have tried to secure compensation for the girls (and also boys) who have suffered in the intervening years but it has been left to the council to bear the brunt of these claims. Is this right?
I have said in previous blogs that the position of the police in relation to negligence claims is not morally supportable. If an ambulanceman arrives at an accident scene and fails to do his job properly he can be sued. A policeman cannot. If a doctor later fails to treat the victim appropriately he can be sued. A policeman cannot. If I fail to handle the victim’s claim properly I can be sued. A policeman cannot. How can this be right?
I would encourage one and all to watch “The Betrayed Girls” tonight and to consider the position of the police in this country and whether it is right that we allow them this immunity from civil claims in negligence.
(Jonathan’s appearance on Victoria Derbyshire can be viewed on BBC iPlayer for the next 29 days: 1:37:52 – 1:58:20)